This Commons Library briefing paper deals with the regulation of face-to-face fundraising, where people are asked to sign direct debits to charity, often on the street. This is sometimes referred to as "chugging".Jump to full report >>
This briefing paper deals with the law in England and Wales except where specifically stated. Section 5 provides a brief summary of the position in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
“Chuggers” is a term sometimes used to describe those involved in fundraising where people are asked to sign direct debits to charity, often on the street. Charities and other organisations which use this method of fundraising do not use the term “chuggers” and instead refer to “face-to-face” or “F2F” fundraising. Face-to-face fundraising is a permissible form of fundraising employed by many charities. Some people regard it as a cost-effective and efficient means of fundraising which gives charities a predictable income stream. Others complain that it is a costly way to raise funds and that the fundraisers themselves can constitute a nuisance.
Fundraising by charities is governed by a self-regulatory system, although the Government has reserve powers to control fundraising if self-regulation fails.
A new regulator, the Fundraising Regulator, launched on 7 July 2016 to take the place of previous arrangements. The Fundraising Regulator regulates all forms of fundraising by charities and deals with relevant complaints.
The Fundraising Regulator has taken over responsibility for the Code of Fundraising Practice (the Code) which sets the standards that apply to fundraising carried out by all charitable institutions and third party fundraisers in the UK. A new version of the Code took effect from 1 October 2019.
The Fundraising Regulator has published information, for both fundraisers and the public, under the heading, Direct debit fundraising: street and private site.
The Institute of Fundraising (IoF) is the professional membership body for UK fundraising. In October 2019, it established three new Compliance Rulebooks which include the relevant standards within the Code that apply to Door to Door, Private Site and Street regular giving fundraising. The IoF Compliance Rule Books are enforced through penalties and sanctions.
Many councils have a Site Management Agreement (SMA) with the Institute of Fundraising to control where and when fundraising can take place. The Institute of Fundraising states that the aim of SMAs is to “balance the duty of charities to ask the public for support with the right of the public not to be put under undue pressure to give”.
The Fundraising Regulator will investigate complaints about fundraising practice, where these cannot be resolved by the charities themselves. It does so by considering whether the fundraising organisation has complied with the Code.
The Fundraising Regulator deals with complaints about fundraising in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and fundraising in Scotland where it is carried out by charities registered primarily with the Charity Commission for England and Wales or the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland.
The Fundraising Regulator may also initiate investigations if they believe or suspect that a breach of the Code may have occurred even though no complaint has been received.
The Scottish Fundraising Standards Panel was formally established in December 2016 for the purposes of overseeing enhanced self-regulation of fundraising in Scotland, to be responsible for fundraising standards in Scotland, and to handle fundraising complaints related to Scottish registered charities.
Fundraising in Northern Ireland is subject to a system of self-regulation, overseen by the Fundraising Regulator.
Commons Briefing papers SN06027
Author: Catherine Fairbairn